While Maryland was making history with marriage equality last week, Anne Arundel County was shaming itself with ridiculous racial shenanigans. The Baltimore Sun has a recap of the latest evidence of a disconnect in The Free State:
The council met Thursday night to fill the position vacated by former Councilman Daryl D. Jones, who began serving a five-month federal prison term last month. The 4 1/2-hour meeting was marked by shouting, a racial slur, accusations of bullying and a 3-3 deadlocked vote over two candidates.
Former state Sen. Michael J. Wagner of Ferndale and Marine reservist Peter I. Smith of Severn were selected as finalists among 10 Democratic applicants in a process that included 101 rounds of voting. The council ultimately voted to resume the process next week....
On Thursday, the fireworks started within the first 10 minutes of the meeting in downtown Annapolis.
Lewis A. Bracy, a retired federal worker who was one of 10 applicants for the seat, said he thought he should get the appointment, in part because "people in the county need to see a diverse person on the podium...."
Fink, who presides over the all-male and all-white body, was incredulous. "I can't believe that today I'm being asked to vote for someone … solely on diversity. It just blows my mind...."
While questioning a candidate with a military background, Councilman Richard B. "Dick" Ladd, a Broadneck Republican, used an ethnic slur to describe his service during the Vietnam War, saying, "I was there chasing down the gooks."
The comment elicited gasps from the audience assembled to watch the process play out.....
"I think everybody is entitled to a little time to think about this. I am sure all the interest groups are going to be applying whatever pressure they deem necessary to apply before we have a vote on Tuesday," said [Councilmember Jamie] Benoit. "My hope is that political maturity will prevail. ... It is an embarrassment. It was gross."
Two days later, a follow-up article in The Sun indicated that some civil rights leaders are accusing members of the County Council of creating a hostile environment:
Anne Arundel County activists plan to publicly denounce on Monday "a climate of insensitivity and intolerance" that members of the Anne Arundel County Council have fostered, an Annapolis civil rights leader wrote Saturday.
"We have seen racially insensitive comments made by some members of the County Council and now is the time to publicly express our dissatisfaction," wrote Carl O. Snowden, director of the state attorney general's Office of Civil Rights, in an email to activists....
Monday's planned protest comes after Councilman Richard B. "Dick" Ladd, the 71-year-old Broadneck Republican, used the word "gooks" to describe enemy combatants during the Vietnam War, in which he served. Ladd spoke during a County Council meeting Thursday. Reached by phone Saturday, Ladd declined to comment....
The six current councilmen are deadlocked on whom to choose: Democrats Jamie Benoit of Crownsville and Chris Trumbauer of Annapolis and Republican Jerry Walker of Gambrills voted for Smith, while Ladd, Republican John J. Grasso of Glen Burnie and Council Chairman Derek Fink, a Pasadena Republican, voted for Wagner....
Smith, reached by phone Saturday evening, said he was not involved with the protest and was exasperated to hear that racial politics might be entering into the contest for the empty seat.Indeed, Peter Smith should be judged by his merits, but it seems some of his would-be colleagues are instead all too eager to make a point about how UN-interested they are in "diversity." Shameful.
"The qualities, character and resume of each candidate should speak for itself," Smith said.
P.S. Amazingly, hiding behind all of this are allegations that a certain Democratic leader is trying to tip the scales in this race. It could be completely false information, but we shall see. If you have any details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.